Image Credit: AFP Photo / William West

Man dies from brown snake bite trying to save dog

  • BY AG Staff |
  • January 12, 2018

The 24-year-old man was rushed to hospital but died just an hour later.

A NEW South Wales man has died just an hour after being bitten by a brown snake while in his backyard on Wednesday night.

The man discovered the snake inside his pet dog’s mouth and, in an attempt to protect his dog, was bitten on the finger.

"He went to investigate his small dog barking and found the dog to have a small brown snake in his mouth," Sergeant Josh McKenzie told ABC News.

"He's then gone to try and separate the dog from the snake and was bitten on the finger."

The sergeant confirmed that the man was taken to the hospital by a family member where antivenom and attempts at resuscitation were made, but were unsuccessful.   

Brown snake venom extremely potent

Bryan Fry, an expert on brown snakes from the University of Queensland told Australian Geographic (AG) that brown snakes are unusual in the speed of action of their venom.

Read more: Australia's 10 most dangerous snakes

“Brown snakes are the only snakes in the world that can kill in as little as 15 minutes.

“The victim feels fine for a while but once they start feeling crook the envenomation proceeds with terrifying rapidity, and they rapidly fall off the proverbial cliff. They go from feeling fine to dead very suddenly.

“That is why brown snakes envenomations are so insiduous. If people wait until symptoms before ringing first aid, by the time an ambulance gets there it may be too late.”

Long way to go in understand brown snake venom

Active clinical toxicologist Geoff Isbister, who specialises in antivenoms said this was an unfortunate death.

“This was an unfortunate death, and it just demonstrates that brown snakes can be deadly despite antivenom and despite the best of modern medicine,” he told AG.

“As we reported last year brown snakes are responsible for most of our snakebite deaths, and most occur early and out of hospital. I have attached the paper.

“This case again demonstrates that we still don’t understand everything about snakebites and we need to do more research on this.”